LOS ANGELES, Calif.–A newborn Christmas package nicknamed Noel was dropped off at a Los Angeles fire station on Christmas Eve.

Firefighters at Station 46, in a hard-luck section of the city just south of Exposition Park, said a 27-year old woman walked into their station house Friday afternoon, gave them her six-hour-old daughter, and directed that the child be placed for adoption.

“We talked to her (the mother) for a minute–just general stuff,” Capt. Scott Hilton told City News Service. “The child looked great–wrapped and clean.

“She said she had just fed her–and had (given birth to) her earlier that day.”

The baby girl was nicknamed “Noel” by paramedics and firefighter, and she was warmed by them as they spoke with the new mother, said city fire department spokesman Erik Scott. She made it clear she needed someone else to care for the baby, and one firefighter said the woman alreadyhad three children at home.

“The Mom was very polite and cooperative,” Hilton said. “She answered all the important questions regarding the baby. She was by herself. She was talkative.”

Firefighters placed matching identification bands on the mother and baby, to allow the woman to make the case to reclaim the child if she changes her mind in the next week.

They took Noel to nearby California Hospital for post-natal care, and allowed the woman to depart.

The child is now under the custody of the county’s Department of Child Services and under state law will be cared for by a foster parent until either custody is restored to a blood relative, or she is placed for adoption.

Under California’s Safe Haven Law, all 106 city fire stations in Los Angeles and the hundreds of other fire stations in other jurisdictions are designated locations where new mothers can leave babies, no questions asked, and with no child abandonment charges possible.

The Safe Haven Law was championed by L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, and is credited with saving the lives of dozens of babies in California who otherwise could have been abandoned–alone–by distraught new mothers.

“The program works,” Hilton told City News Service Christmas morning.

“Obviously, you want to praise the mother for making the right decision–and my crew being able to handle it in a very professional and efficient manner.”

By Gene Johnson | City News Service